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The (Many) Benefits of Meditation

Should You Meditate? Science Says, “Yes!”

There's a reason you've probably heard so much about meditation — there are tons of mental and physical health benefits that come from a regular meditation practice.

If you've ever wondered why meditation is so great, keep reading. We're going to review some of meditation's most powerful health benefits, plus some practical advice for how to incorporate a daily meditation practice into your life.

Meditation helps you get to know your own mind

How well do you know your own mind? I really like this quote from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:

“Probably most importantly, it has helped me understand my own mind. Before I started meditating, I never thought about what was going on inside my head — it would just happen, and I would follow its commands like an automaton.”

Meditation puts you in touch with your brain and how it works, which is a skill that can help with everything from general happiness to impulse control.

Meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety, and helps with depression

The mental health benefits of meditation are astounding , and numerous studies support the claims I made above.

For example, when we're stressed, the body releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in response. Several studies suggest that meditation might reduce depression by decreasing those inflammatory chemicals.

Physical benefits of mediation

Meditation helps us relax , and that has a physical impact on the body. When we're relaxed, the levels of nitric oxide in our blood increases. This compound causes blood vessels to open up, and blood pressure drops as a result.

Meditation can also improve our ability to endure pain, and it's been known to have positive effects on insomnia and other sleep problems.

How to meditate more

Incorporating meditation into your everyday life is easy, but like any other habit, it takes some work to establish a routine. If you're stumped on how to meditate regularly, here's what I'd suggest:

  • Start small. Really small. Begin with two minutes of seated meditation per day for one week, and gradually increase your time. That's all you have to do, sit quietly for two minutes.
  • Don't worry about the “how”. Meditation isn't about finding the perfect cushion or chair, and all you need is a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Sit at your kitchen table, on the couch, on your bed, or wherever you feel comfortable.
  • Meditate in the morning. The best way to ensure something gets done is to do it in the morning. You can try different times if you find that morning just isn't right for you, but give mornings a try first.
  • Turn self-judgment OFF. There's no right or wrong way to meditate. If your brain is running a mile a minute and you can't stop, that's completely okay. Don't beat yourself up, just try to practice focusing your attention. It'll feel more natural with time.

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